Skip to comments.Interesting Deathbed Converts
Posted on 10/31/2008 12:27:50 PM PDT by NYer
I have been looking around the internet for some interesting converts to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I find that deathbed conversions are interesting. On one hand I am glad to see that they converted, and on the other I think “What were you waiting for?”
Anyway, here is a list of some of the more famous deathbed conversions or “reversions” that I found on the net. Caveat: this list is certainly not exhaustive and in no way, shape, or form is it inerrant. Here are the converts:
Constantine the Great- Surprisingly, the great Emperor who signed the Edict of Milan and did so much for the Church in Her early days only converted on his deathbed. He may have postponed his baptism to properly repent for the earlier murders of his wife and son first (he ordered their executions.) He fell ill, realized that he was at death’s door, and was actually baptized by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia. He is honored as a Saint in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, the Latin Church has no Feast for him and does not honor him as a Saint.
Charles II of England- He and his brother James II were the best hopes in restoring Catholicism to “Our Lady’s Dowry” (Non Angli Sed Angeli !) James, who would succeed Charles on the throne of England converted to Catholicism first. Charles was against James’ conversion for political purposes but later converted himself on his deathbed. His father Charles I was beheaded after one of the many Civil Wars England fought against itself for power over the Isle. Charles I was added to the Anglican list of Saints as a martyr after the restoration of the Monarchy in England by his son, Charles II. Charles I is one of the few post-Reformation (Revolt?) saints of the Anglican Church.
Oscar Wilde- For all his flamboyant and wild (pun intended) behavior and homosexual dalliances he still asked to be baptized in to the Church on his deathbed. He was a brilliant poet, playwright, and novelist.
John Wayne- I knew it! The Duke always reminded me of my grandpa! John Wayne had been married 3 times and was divorced twice. All of his wives were Hispanic women and I assume that their Catholicism rubbed off on him. I have always enjoyed his movies, especially the ones he made with Maureen O’Hara. Every year on or around St. Patrick’s Day, I make sure to watch The Quiet Man.
Buffalo Bill Cody- Buffalo Bill was baptized on his deathbed in Denver. He was given tribute by King George of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and of course President Woodrow Wilson when they heard of his death.
He may have been influenced by the great Chief Sitting Bull who, according to the blog Roman Christendom, converted some years before.
Some note that John Henry “Doc” Holiday may have been a deathbed convert… It is noted “He struck up a friendship with the local Catholic priest, Father Edward Downey, and there were unconfirmed reports that Holliday was received into the Catholic Church just before he died. For the last two weeks of his life, he was delirious. Doc Holliday died on Nov. 8, 1887, age 36.” (Source). Also “friend and first cousin Martha Anne “Mattie” Holliday, with whom he regularly corresponded throughout his life, had years earlier become a Catholic nun, and this may have been an influence. ” (Source)
There are many more, but it is getting late and I have to go to Mass tomorrow.
Indeed, the list is interesting.
There are rumours that George Washington and William Shakespeare (who was pretty clearly born and raised Catholic) died in the Church.
Frank S. Meyer converted to Roman Catholicism shortly before his death.
Late? Maybe by human standards, but as the young woman who suggested Robert “The Prince of Darkness” Novak and his wife convert to Catholicism: “Eternity is a long time.”
You failed to include one of the most famous deathbed conversion.
That being the notorious gangster Dutch Schultz.
Schultz had been shot by rival gangsters.
Before entering surgery, he asked for and was baptized and given last rites.
People were furious that Schultz was received into the church and given absolution.
The Church defended its action.
Monsignor Belford wrote in the newspapers,
“Was Dutch Schultz worse than the penitent thief? He was a criminal. He seemed unworthy of the least consideration. Perhaps he was. But who will close the gates of mercy? The fact that he received the sacraments is no guarantee that he received God’s forgiveness.
“If he was not really penitent, the priest’s absolution had no effect. Yet that priest did right when he baptized or absolved him. The dying man said he was sorry he had offended God; he declared he would do all in his power to avoid sin in the future and to repair the harm he had done. If he meant this, God ratified the action of the minister.
“But, remember, the sinner contracts two debts; the debt of guilt and the debt of pain. God can forgive the former and insist on payment of the latter. He could forgive Schultz and yet keep him in purgatory until the end of time to atone, so far as man can atone, for his wickedness.”
Let’s us all pray that in our hour of agony we will be given an opportunity to receive absolution.
Can’t think of his name, but the guy that edited the Great Books of the Western World.
John von Neumann, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time
Perhaps the better choice of words would have been "risky". It was not uncommon in the early church for converts to put off their baptism until just before death, the better to cleanse their souls at the last minute. Alas, it was a risk one took, anticipating they would still be coherent to make such a decision at the last minute. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why catholics baptize their children so early - the "just in case" factor.
Yep, that is the one.
Not famous, but interesting.
Wow! Not many people realize that, do they?